Mikko Hirvonen had to settle for the runners-up spot on the Rally Finland last weekend and while he enjoyed the duel with arch-rival Sebastien Loeb, there was no denying he was disappointed not to come out top, especially as he had the home advantage.

Hirvonen and Loeb fought for every second over the blisteringly fast roller-coaster roads of central Finland, venue for the 'Finnish Grand Prix' and the ninth round in the World Rally Championshp.

Furthermore while the gap between them never rose above 18 seconds, Mikko was unable to get Seb's cushion below 10 seconds on Saturday and while he did finally manage that on the short final leg, it was all too little too late and he finished 9 seconds adrift.

While P2 was good enough to keep him in the lead in the drivers' championship, 1 point up on Loeb, Mikko knows that with the WRC heading to Germany next - an event the Frenchman has utterly dominated ever since it joined the schedule in 2002 - he is going to need to pull something special out of the bag in Trier if he is to stay top.

"I'm pleased with my driving but I came here to win and Loeb found a few seconds more," reflected the BP Ford Abu Dhabi WRT #1. "We played cat and mouse all weekend and when I won a stage, he usually won the next.

"For there to be only nine seconds between us after all this crazy driving is amazing. I lost the time though by not being brave enough in the narrow sections.

"It'll be difficult now but we must fight for the win on every round. All-in-all it was a fantastic rally and an amazing fight and it's just unfortunate I didn't win in front of my home fans. For sure I am disappointed. I pushed right to the end but it wasn't enough. I'm pleased to still lead the championship but one point isn't much.

"The speed was crazy. Sometimes we could have thrown our pace notes away and just gone for it and I've learned that I could have made my notes quicker.

"I wanted to win here, but it was still a fantastic event. The championship fight is not over, but of course all the rallies coming up are more important now. It's not over yet!"

Mikko will get his hands on a new evolution of the Focus RS WRC in Germany and that couldn't be better timed: "Here in Finland we were the favourites but we didn't win, so maybe the same will happen to him in Germany," Hirvonen added playfully.

"It will be hard but there is no way I will settle for second straight away. There are three tarmac rallies ahead of us but I will go out and drive to win every stage and see what happens."